Deedes warns that Nazi tirade threatens Westferry meetings

Deedes (left) walked out when Desmond (right) made racist jibes

Telegraph executives are considering scrapping their monthly finance meetings with Express Newspapers after Richard Desmond subjected them to a foul-mouthed racist tirade.

The companies share ownership of Westferry Printers, which prints the Telegraph, Express, Guardian and Financial Times, and hold monthly finance meetings at the company’s East London offices.

Desmond used Thursday morning’s meeting to pour scorn on the fact that German publisher, Axel Springer, is one of the bidders left in the race to buy the Telegraph Group.

His antics reportedly included: asking the Telegraph executives if they were looking forward to being owned by “the Nazis”, calling them “fucking wankers” and “fucking cunts” and singing Deutschland uber alles.

Telegraph chief executive Jeremy Deedes walked out of the meeting with his colleagues.

He told Press Gazette: “For Westferry we have monthly finance meetings which just involve the shareholders and we also have quarterly meetings which also include The Guardian and the Financial Times. Clearly in the future there can’t be repeats of that sort of child-like behaviour. We may just have the board meetings.

“If our partners simply want to treat them as a monthly excuse to play the fool, it’s not a good use of time.”

When asked if Desmond has offered Deedes said: “I don’t think people like that are into apologies.”

He added: “He’s never been overtly racist like that before. We’ve had bad language, that’s just an affliction – that’s always going to be there.”

Publicity surrounding the outburst overshadowed news of the Daily Express’s change in political allegiance from Labour to the Conservatives.

On Tuesday Tory MPs were among 18 members to sign an early day motion questioning whether Desmond was a fit person to run the Daily Express.

SALE IN SIGHT

Telegraph Group chief executive Jeremy Deedes has predicted that the lengthy sale process of the Telegraph Group should soon be coming to an end.

The Telegraph board has concluded a series of presentations which have been made to the various parties interested in buying the newspaper group.

Deedes told Press Gazette: “To judge from the enthusiasm of the parties I don’t think it’s something that’s going to go on for a long time.”

The future of the UK’s topselling quality paper has been in question since the “retirement” of Hollinger International’s chief executive Conrad Black in November amid claims he had wrongly taken millions of pounds out of the company.

Bidders also include Daily Mail and General Trust, the Barclay Brothers and several private equity groups.

By Dominic Ponsford

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